USS RONALD REAGAN, At sea (NNS) -- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 earned their "Blue Water Certification" as part of Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) held March 17 - April 7 off the coast of southern California.
A prerequisite for deployment, the certification will allow the carrier and airwing to operate in areas that are out of range of friendly airfields.
The certification process tests the ship's ability to land aircraft in emergency situations such as engine failure and fuel leakage. Crew members must also be able to launch aircraft already on the catapults, as well as clear the landing area in order to recover the damaged aircraft.
According to Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) (AW/SW) Saul Mendo, assigned to Ronald Reagan's air department, every carrier must earn the certification prior to deployment but Ronald Reagan earned it ahead of schedule.
"It usually takes two to three days to get the certification," said Mendo. "For us, it took only one."
Mendo said earning the certification in just one day is not often something seen by the evaluation team.
"I've been talking to a lot of the people who have been around these certifying processes and they've said that they've never seen that before," added Mendo.
Mendo said he credits the tremendous amount of teamwork exhibited by the ship and air wing for the success.
"The guys are very well trained, and their level of knowledge is outstanding, so they understand what it takes to make something like this happen," said Mendo. "We're ready to go anywhere at a moment's notice!"
According to Chief Air Traffic Controller (AW/SW) Malissia Deaton, from Ronald Reagan's operations department, the blue water certification process is a challenge for every department and organization that is involved in flight operations.
"The carrier air traffic control center averaged 16-18 hours a day in front of a scope, qualifying blue water certification. We finished a day early with a 74 second interval between 18 aircraft on the graded recovery, resulting in an overall score of outstanding," said Deaton. "By far, this is the best CATCC (carrier air traffic control center) team in the Navy."
Upon completion of COMPTUEX, Ronald Reagan and CVW-14 will continue to prepare for their upcoming deployment.
Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named after the 40th U.S. President, and carries the motto of "Peace through Strength," a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.